Device Used to Prevent Virus Spread May Cause Eye Damage

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Manage episode 282682431 series 2530089
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A study found that ultraviolet C (UVC) germicidal lamps used by people to try to kill Covid-19 may damage the outer layer of the eye. Researchers from Florida reported at least seven cases of patients who have suffered eye injuries characterized by burning sensations and sensitivity to light after using UVC lamps. According to Dr. Jesse Sengillo, an ophthalmologist from the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, the cornea, the transparent part of the eye’s surface, is susceptible to light emitted by UVC lamps. Ophthalmologist Dr. Deepinder Dhaliwal did not find the news of the eye injuries surprising since UVC light looks harmless, and people may not be aware that they should not look at the light directly. Sengillo likened the eye injury to a sunburn because it is painful and takes a few days to heal. The injury causes red, itchy eyes that are difficult to open because of light sensitivity. The burning sensation does not occur immediately, so some patients did not discover their injuries until hours after they had already damaged their eyes with the UVC lamps. According to the Food and Drug Administration, UVC light may kill the virus that causes Covid-19, but improper installation of UVC devices in rooms may cause skin and eye burns. Ophthalmologists advise people who use UVC lamps to leave the room once they turn the devices on and come back only when it is time to turn them off. Another option, they say, is to wear eye protection when using UVC lamps. For people who experience eye pain after using UVC devices, doctors advise immediate consultations to get prescriptions for ointments to alleviate the burning sensation and antibiotics to prevent infection.

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